April 8, 2013
The Choice to Jump
When I was 16 years old, I had an experience that changed my life. It happened in the beautiful cascades of the Grand Canyon. My youth group from church had been planning this fateful trip for several months. I had a leadership role in the group, and was therefore in charge of a significant portion of the planning and execution of the trip. I had prepared meticulously, assuring myself that I had dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. The 6 days of our trip were full of exercise, instruction, and fun. We swam close to the waterfalls, sunbathed in the lake, played together, and camped happily. Sometimes we took short hikes to visit other lakes and waterfalls in the canyon. On one of these occasions, we visited a place called…I really don’t remember, but I’ll never forget what it looked like. There was a high waterfall that emptied into the—relatively—deep lake below. Beside the waterfall, there was a cliff of at least 60 feet—a perfect platform for diving to land in the foaming waters below. Seeing my friends and leaders jump from the cliff, I realized that I was facing a decision. I had never been in a situation quite like this. I was not an impulsive or adventurous person. I had always valued order, and careful preparation, and had little tendency toward spontaneity. I preferred tranquility, order, peace. Nonetheless, in that moment, a began to feel a desire to do something different. I knew that there would be little pressure from my companions (they weren’t that kind of friends). But all the same, I felt an inexplicable and internal wish to jump from that cliff. I approached the edge, and leaned forward a little to throw a timid gaze over the depths below. A sudden and horrible fear clutched my heart, and I took an involuntary step backwards. Recovering sufficiently, I leaned forward once again to investigate the situation with greater scrutiny. I saw the little waves...